BlackBerry launched its new touchscreen mobile device BlackBerry Z10 in over 20 countries last month, hoping to lure some of its customers drifting towards iPhones and Androids back to its fold. The Canadian smartphone maker might have got more than what it bargained for. “What has been a real surprise for us,” its CEO Thorsten Heins said in a technology conference last week, “is that BlackBerry 10 as a platform and product is attracting users that are currently on other platforms.” We tested the device for a week keeping two things in mind. One, will it make sense for a traditional BlackBerry user to upgrade to Z10. Two, how easy will it be to move from other platform. Here’s what we found out.
How does the new Blackberry stack up for business users
By NS Ramnath
If you belong to the growing tribe of phablet lovers, you will find the screen size of BB Z10 a tad too small. But, compared to iPhone 4 and even iPhone 5, the screen size is larger. The resolution is good on eyes, and I could read long documents without any strain. It’s light in weight and comes with a better grip. I didn’t have to constantly worry about letting the device slip through my hands.
The traditional BlackBerry users have always loved their keyboards, and talk about it with a “mere-pas-maa-hai” pride. I can’t say if the virtual keyboard that comes with Z10 is as good as the physical keyboard, but it’s the best I have come across in any smartphone so far. It’s easy to type even when you don’t use the predictive text feature. And the predictive text – far superior both in suggestions and in placement of the suggestions – made typing a lot faster than I could on my iPhone, or even with SwiftKey app on Android device.
The Hub lets you manage all your communication – email, messaging, SMS, social media – in one place. And I could reach the hub from anywhere on the device with a couple of swipes (even though getting used its gesture based navigation took some time). Messaging has always been the core of Blackberry, and business users found it pretty convenient. Hub expands its scope while keeping it efficient. Since BB’s notifications are more persistent and loud than in other devices, you might want to turn off social media notifications after a few days.
My biggest disappointment was around apps. It would of course be unfair to compare BlackBerry World, its appstore with iPhone’s. But I thought it would be stocked with some of the apps that you can expect a business user to go for – say Reuters or Bloomberg news. They were missing. (Some of them are available in the app store, but not available for this device.) That’s not to say it scores a zero. It comes with productivity apps like word processor, spreadsheet, presentation, Dropbox. Its store has a few more – such as Cisco Webex. Still, early adopters will not appreciate the wait.
For a long time, I didn’t think of camera as a business app. But I have learnt lessons from more than a few globe trotting executives that in their estimates it’s among the top 5. They won’t be disappointed with BB Z10: 8 megapixel for photos and 1080mp for videos, besides a forward facing camera that can shoot at 720mp. I especially liked the time shift mode. It automatically takes a burst of shots, and lets you chose the one you want to keep. Your colleague will never accuse you of missing the moment by a fraction of a second.